THE CRITICAL shortages of medical supplies in many impoverished nations limit the provision of basic health care and may be as demoralizing to physicians and nurses as is their huge workload.1 Arthur Hartman, former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, writes, "The new commonwealth can produce only 15 to 20 percent of the medical supplies it needs, and it does not have the hard currency to import them... medical workers are forced to reuse syringes and needles."2 While it may be difficult to anticipate the usefulness of elaborate medical equipment in developing nations, it is clear that the people of such countries desperately need basic supplies.
For editorial comment, see p 1462.
Although poverty will affect health care in developing nations for decades to come, this does not preclude effective care of the sick and injured.3-5 "Poverty in material resources is not matched by poverty of intellect
Rosenblatt WH, Silverman DG. Recovery, Resterilization, and Donation of Unused Surgical Supplies. JAMA. 1992;268(11):1441-1443. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490110079033